Those of us in the payments industry talk regularly about the potential of mobile payments and the benefits they could bring.
Laying aside for the moment the fact that I feel, at times, as if we all get so excited about mobile we’ve stopped looking for what comes next, I do think it is worth taking a step back and looking at some of the challenges we might encounter as mobile payments
become as commonplace as credit or debit cards.
We hear a lot about the work that the banks and other industry players have to do with their mobile solutions. However, there is another side to that equation – consumers.
We know that consumers are generally positive about the potential of mobile payments, but
adoption isn’t as quick as it could be, especially in developed countries.
I think there are two main reasons for this – concerns about the technology, and an understanding of why they really need it, when their current payment methods work just fine.
The answer to both is education – but I think we need different messages to address the two different concerns.
To reassure users about the security of mobile payments, and to set their mind at rest when it comes to fraudulent or incorrect transactions, the banking industry should work together to set the message straight. Consumers need to understand what mobile
payment technology is (and isn’t) capable of, and how it can be used.
The recent ‘bad press’ that contactless transactions have received in the UK is an example of how media hype can get out of hand, and a few scaremongers won’t let a good story get in the way of the truth – we can’t let the same thing happen with mobile.
blog does go a long way to correct the myths about contactless flaws.)
When it comes to educating users about the benefits of mobile payments and why they should use them, I think that’s where the retailers come in to the picture. They are the ones who have the potential to really add value to mobile technology, through loyalty
schemes, vouchers, ‘favourites’, preferential checkouts for mobile users – the possibilities are endless.
We are seeing some retailers making headway to bring customers on board with their mobile payment technology, normally through an app – take Starbucks and Pizza Express as two good solutions. Starbucks lets users scan a bar code on their phone to pay using
stored value, while Pizza Express lets customers pay a bill through their phone using PayPal or a credit/debit card, without waiting for the waiter to return to the table.
I don’t think either of these solutions are necessarily the silver bullet that mobile payments needs to really get customers on board, but they are heading in the right direction. If we in the payments industry want mobile to be the future, we have to start
thinking outside the box about what is possible, and makes sure consumers see the value for them.